The Common Man Speaks


True story of Anna Hazare’s MMRDA (Mumbai) fast

With the Government sabotaging the passing of the Lokpal Bill on December 29 by their cheap tactics, Anna Hazare's grudge against them is proved right. Now, the intentions of the Congress are crystal clear in front of the nation! But I would like to take your attention on some other serious issue.

There has been a massive hue and cry by the media that Anna Hazare’s fast in Mumbai’s MMRDA ground, which took place on December 27 and 28, was a flop as very few people turned up at the venue to support the Gandhian. However, truth is something else at least on the second day.

Agreed, the long distance shots seen on various news channels showed vast empty spaces on the ground. When I saw the footage even I felt the attendance was way below short of expectations. However, recently my brother Fenil Seta and few IAC supporters told me a totally different story.

According to them, large number of people had turned up at the venue but since the ground covers a humongous area, the crowd looked small when seen from long distance. After watching the pictures and videos taken by them, I find no reason not to believe them.

(Article continued after pictures.)

When my brother took the above picture on the second day, he had to use the zoom function to the fullest effect. This is because he was just not able to go anywhere near the stage due to the strong crowd on the second day.

To prove my point further, I would like you to watch the following videos: -

During Hazare’s August fast at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, the crowd started increasing as the days progressed. Given the fact that the crowd had increased on the second day at MMRDA, it would have increased further if the fast was continued for some more days.

Considering that MMRDA is so far from Bandra and Kurla railway stations, with hardly any BEST buses running on the route, it should be said the turnout was good and the event by no means was a flop! It seems our media either didn’t know the truth or for some strange reason was shying away from reporting actual facts! Was it money? Who knows?


Naye Saal Ka Naya Veham (New Year Poem)

By: Keyur Seta

Kab tak phool barsenge naye saal par,
Yeh bhi ho jayega ek din purana,
Sookh jayenge tab yeh saare phool,
Samaapti ka iski karega intezar zamana

Door ho jayegi sabhi duvidhayen,
Naye saal mein hoga naya savera,
Nav-varsh lagta atyant bharosemand,
Jhooti ummeeden ban jaati sahara

Purana hoga jab yeh naya saal,
Ho jayegi ummeed ki kiran ojal,
Dhoka de gaya yeh saal bhi,
Aao kare iska bhi qatal,

Naye saal mein kya hai nayapan,
Hai to keval tarikh mein badal,
Tu vijai ho saal ke pratyek din,
Paida kar utna aatmabal


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Anna Hazare ends fast, battle continues

Finally Anna Hazare has broken his fast due to his deteriorating health condition. With this, the Jail Bharo Andolan, which was scheduled to take place from December 30 to January 1, is delayed indefinitely. Although he has gone against his decision of fasting for three days, this is the right decision since his presence in vital for any future course of action.

But the big issue which is in everyone’s minds is the low turnout at Mumbai’s MMRDA grounds. This was surprising considering the increase in the number of members in various Anna Hazare and India Against Corruption (IAC) groups and fan pages in Facebook and Twitter. According to me, the reason for the low turnout could be: -

Location: MMRDA ground is too far away from the station. It is also not accessible via BEST buses from every corner of the city unlike Azad Maidan.

Working day: It is very difficult for Mumbaikars to take leave from work during weekdays to attend the event. Even if they are willing to join after work, the location makes it difficult for them after a tiring and hectic day.

Having said all this, I show no bones in saying that I am highly disappointed by the way Mumbaikars have responded to the fast.

I have been reading huge number of comments in favour of Hazare in Facebook, Twitter and under various news articles. Even a good number of friends, family and relatives have been supporting him. So, why the same number didn’t reflect on MMRDA? I hope it’s the above mentioned two reasons that kept large number of Mumbaikars away. If that is not the case, such major events shouldn’t take place in Mumbai again!

But as Anna said, the battle will continue. I don't care if large number of Mumbaikars don't respond. I am fully committed to the cause. And why shouldn't I all since the government is hell bent in presenting a toothless Lokpal Bill? Their intentions are crystal clear - to help those who wish to indulge in corruption. On the other hand, Anna's dream is to bring a Bill which will help curb corruption. So, of course, I am with the one with good and noble intentions.


Don 2 Review

Direction: Farhan Akhtar

Production: Farhan Akhtar, Shah Rukh Khan, Ritesh Sidhwani

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Om Puri, Lara Dutta, Kunal Kapoor

Music: Shankar Ehsan Loy

Rating: * * ½

Plot: After becoming the king of drug mafia in Asia, Don (Shah Rukh Khan) now eyes Europe. But to achieve this, he will have to finish off the existing drug mafias of the continent, who are already eager to kill him. Hence, Don hatches a plan which will help him defeat his enemies and conquer Europe.

Don (2006), succeeded largely because of the novel interpretation of Farhan Akhtar of the original 1978 classic, path-breaking action and most importantly, a shocking twist in the end. So, when its sequel arrives, you surely expect at least a similar thrill ride if not more. But in the case of Don 2, that hardly happens due to some indigestible writing and events mostly in the second half.

The writers succeed in building up excitement in the initial moments as Don goes about his plan and later when he escapes prison. The sleek direction and editing, witty dialogues and action a la Hollywood keep you engrossed. Considering it’s a commercial action film, you can even afford to forgive a few flaws during this part including the laughable way in which Hrithik Roshan is used as a guest actor. All is still fairly well when the major heist is planned at the end of the first half.

Things are fine even when the heist is carried out. But it’s the all important portion after that where the writing falters. The twists and drama that follow are just too vague to digest especially the way Roma gets carried away. It’s utterly dumb of a super cop! But what makes you raise your eyebrows is the way Don’s human side is shown suddenly. It clearly doesn’t go well with the cruel character.

Few more of such indigestible events make sure you seldom care about the climax since it is anybody’s guess. A twist at the end makes you wonder at the way Don easily managed to pull off such an over-complicated plan.

As a director, Farhan manages to handle such a Hollywood-like film. It is his own script that acts as a dampener.

Music composers Shankar Ehsan Loy are one of the few ones who can hold their heads high for the musical and background score. But as per the nature of the film, only the title song and ‘Maya’ could be used in the film. Similar applause is needed for Jason West’s extraordinary cinematography.

The performance of the central character needs to be spot on when the whole film is based on it. Shah Rukh Khan does manage to put his better foot forward and give a commendable act through his charm. However, he looks too old to play such a character. Even his worn out body is visible regularly. Due to this, it also becomes difficult to believe when he bashes up baddies.

Boman Irani is effective although not at his best. A mature performer like Priyanka Chopra deserves a more performance-oriented role although she is good in action scenes. Lara Dutta manages to impress in a supporting role. Kunal Kapoor and Nawab Shah do well. Om Puri is average and so is Alyy Khan.

Overall, Don 2 had the potential of being a perfect sequel but is let down by the writing department. At the box-office, it will be another 2011 movie that will earn huge bucks but will fail to satisfy a good section of the audience.




Sharyat (Marathi Movie) Review

Direction: Viju Mane

Production: Ashwamegh Productions

Cast: Sachin Pilgaonkar, Vidyadhar Joshi, Neena Kulkarni, Santosh Juvekar, Sampada Joglekar

Music: Chinar-Mahesh

Rating: * * *

Plot: A traditional bullock-cart race takes place every year in one of the rural areas of Maharashtra. The family that wins the race gets a chance to perform the very important Shiv Puja that year. For years Dhananjay Rao (Sachin Pilgaonkar) is winning the race for Gayatri’s (Neena Kulkarni) family. But once, Dhananjay loses the race due to the crooked method employed by Pratapsingh (Vidyadhar Joshi).

This ensures Dhananjay’s bullock cart meets with an accident which kills few people and injures the bullocks. Devastated by the incident, Dhananjay migrates to the city. He returns after five years and refuses to take part in the race. However, circumstances force him to take part in the last bullock-cart race. This race will decide which family will perform the auspicious puja each and every year. But Dhananjay has to face the mighty Pratapsingh.

Apart from story and direction, Marathi movies have come a long way even in the technical departments like cinematography, sleek editing and background music. These factors are visible in Viju Mane’s Sharyat, which, minus few hiccups, is surely a one-time watch.

Writers (Mane and Hemant Edlabadkar) bring the first plot point (main point) much sooner in the script. Due to this, there is not much to tell before the interval. Fortunately, the events and the cat and mouse game between the protagonist and the villain keep you interested if not fully gripped. The major twist at the interval point appears promising.

But a lengthy item number at the start of the second half acts as a dampener. Even the romantic song between Santosh Juvekar and Sampada Joglekar halts the proceedings. An unusual fact here is that Juvekar’s character has hardly anything to do with the main plot. Plus, Neena Kulkarni’s cruel act in the penultimate moments doesn’t go well with her character.

Fortunately, the events that follow later in the second half and the climax are laudable. In fact, the bullock-cart race in the climax is wonderfully shot which keeps you at the edge of your seat.

Shabbir Naik’s impressive cinematography and Satish Patil’s sharp editing deserve special mention. There is not much scope for music. ‘Sheela Chya Aaicha Gho’ is the track you take home from Chinar-Mahesh’s compositions.

Sachin Pilgaonkar perfectly gets into the skin of his character. This can be rated as one of his mature serious acts. Vidyadhar Joshi has enacted a similar character few times before but he deserves applause for playing a negative act with perfection. As expected from a respected name like Neena Kulkarni, she gives a mature and sensible act.

Although Santosh Juvekar’s character isn’t related to the story much, it’s a pleasure to see him perform. Sampada Joglekar, who looks naturally beautiful, isn’t bad as his love interest. The actor playing Kulkarni’s husband does well to portray a paralytic patient. The rest of the cast provides good support.

Overall, Sharyat tilts more towards the positive side. At the box-office, the film should garner decent collections before the big Bollywood release Don 2 hits the theatres.


Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol Box-Office Prediction

Star Value: Tom Cruise, one of the most famous actors in the universe, is back in the fourth installment of the successful Mission Impossible series. This reason is enough to get the cash registers ringing. Plus, the fact that it also has Anil Kapoor in a cameo has further boosted its chances in the Indian market. There is also Paula Patton playing the female lead.

Hype: The hype is tremendous for Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol with its promos having a terrific impact on the audience. The film has been more in the news in India due to the Anil factor.

Music: Being a Hollywood film, you can’t expect song and dance sequences. But Eminem’s ‘Won’t Back Down’ and the theme music is gaining a lot of attention. The songs and other soundtracks will appeal more when seen in the movie.

Prediction: Due to the above factors, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol will have a very good run at the box-office, at least in the first week. The fact that not a single well known Bollywood film is releasing with it will give it further advantage. Even if the initial response doesn’t turn out to be very positive, people will go to see it once. However, the collections will come down once Shah Rukh Khan’s Don 2 releases on December 23.


Chikni Chameli joins the bandwagon!

So, the much awaited teaser of ‘Chikni Chameli’ item number featuring Katrina Kaif from Agneepath is finally out. The song is based on the superhit Marathi song ‘Kombadi Palali’ from the movie Jatra.

But judging by the way this song and the last few item numbers (Sheila Ki Jawani, Munni Badnaam, Jalebi Bai, etc) are presented in the promos, the makers’ desperation to use it as a marketing tool is clearly visible.

There were times when item numbers were included in the movie due to the demand of the script or the story. The songs were rich in terms of lyrics and singing, whereas today, the focus is more on exposure and vulgar dance moves. And most importantly, the makers never boasted about their item numbers as an achievement unlike today.

Another notable fact is that the girls that feature in these item numbers are considered on par with a successful actress! It’s shocking to see how someone like Malaika Arora Khan is termed and given as much importance as a successful actress! What has she achieved apart from shaking her body to these seeti-bajao numbers?

And now, ‘Chikni Chameli’ will add more feathers in Katrina’s cap! So what if she can’t speak a word properly and fails to give proper expressions most of the times? Bollywood is going through such a phase where all good-lookers are considered good actors regardless their acting skills!

Have a look at the full video of Chikni Chameli: -


Don 2 Box-Office Prediction

Star Value: Having Shah Rukh Khan as the main lead ensures a foolproof guarantee for a mammoth opening for any film, especially if the film is in the news. Presence of other actors like Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani and Om Puri is an added advantage.

Hype: The hype has been tremendous for Don 2 ever since the makers released the first promo in July this year. The excitement increased further when the second promo came out in October. Both the trailers have gone down well even with those who don't admire SRK or the first installment of Don. The makers will publicize the movie further once the release date (December 23) nears.

Music: Songs of Don 2 are slowly gaining popularity. ‘Zara Dil Ko Thaam Lo’, a techno disco number, has impressed the audiences. ‘Dushman Mera’, ‘Maya’ and few other tracks will slowly but steadily help in publicizing the movie.

Prediction: Considering the above points, it’s needless to say that Don 2 will receive a mammoth opening. Even if the film fails to impress at the onset (God forbid), the makers will rake in the profit due to the money generated in the first weekend and week. Fortunately, if Don 2 receives a thumbs up, it will be one of the top earners of 2011. It will also cross the Rs 100 crore mark if that happens.


Anna’s December 11 protest: Gov in spot (Pictures from Mumbai rally)

It didn’t come as a surprise that Anna Hazare’s much awaited token fast today (December 11, 2011) at Jantar Mantar received considerable mass support. Even result-wise, the protest turned out to be a success as representatives from all political parties from the opposition agreed with Hazare’s demand that Group C and D employees, CBI and, most importantly, the Prime Minister should come under Lokpal.

This unanimous nod from the oppositions has made sure that the Congress and UPA Government are left all alone and in a mighty spot! Now, the pressure has increased upon them even further! If a token protest like today can bring such results, one can imagine the consequences once the full-fledged protests begin from December 27 onwards.

Meanwhile, there were numerous successful protests rallies all across India in support of Hazare. In Mumbai, the bike and car rally from Shivaji Park to Azad Maidan saw around 1500 vehicles carrying innumerable Indian flags. Even the dharna at Azad Maidan saw some energetic and enthusiastic scenes.

Mayank Gandhi’s talk was the highlight as expected. I bet someone who is against the movement will be convinced to be a part of it after listening to him. Apart from him, it was a six year old girl who stole the show with her innocence as she spoke about the importance of being a part of this movement.

Have a look at the pictures from the rally and protest in Mumbai: -

A banner in Bengali saying, "Jei Rakshak, Shei Bhakshak."

Mayank Gandhi in action.




Sehwag’s 219. Best huge score ever?

Just when I was thinking Virendra Sehwag is getting into a poor run of form, the Nawab Of Najafgar surprises me and the country in a humongous and a delightful manner by smashing 291 runs against the West Indies in the fourth one-day international at Inodore on December 8, 2011.

Hearty Congratulations to Viru for being just the second batsman in the world to cross the 200 mark in ODIs and, more importantly, for scoring the highest score ever in ODIs.


Let’s re-visit the highlights of the innings: (Article continued after video)

In the modern era of cricket, numerous batsmen have reached huge scores of 170 plus in limited overs cricket. So, I just thought of rating the top 10 high scores in ODIs. The rankings are not based on the highest number of runs but by taking into account the bowling attack of the opposition and the conditions as well.

Here are the top 10 high scores in ODIs: -

10. Shane Watson – 185* (96) vs Bangladesh in 2011 at Dhaka: 185 is huge but I am putting it on number 10 because Bangladesh’s weak bowling attack and also because Watson was dropped once. And if you notice the innings carefully, Watson’s 7-8 sixes were played with the same sweep shot against two left arm spinners with identical actions.

9. Gary Kirsten – 188* (159) vs UAE at Rawalpindi in 1996 at Rawalpindi: Kirsten played some delightful shots in his innings but the reason for me rating it on number 9 is that the bowling attack of UAE was just like their team – minnow! Plus, it was a flat batting track and there was no pressure at all on the former Indian coach.

8. Charles Coventry – 194* (156) vs Bangladesh in 2009 at Bulawayo: It’s a big thing for a Zimbabwean to score such a mammoth score even if it is against a weak bowling attack like Bangladesh.

7. Sachin Tendulkar - 186 not out (150) vs New Zealand in 1999 at Hyderabad: Tendulkar along with Dravid set the Hyderabad stadium on fire on a belter of a wicket with a very fast outfield.

6. Mahendra Singh Dhoni – 183 not out (145) vs Sri Lanka in 2005 at Jaipur: Rating this one higher than Tendulkar’s innings as Sri Lanka’s bowling line-up being much stronger. Plus, Dhoni was a newbie when he achieved this score.

5. Saeed Anwar – 194 (146) vs India in 1997 at Chennai: Anwar rose to the occasion in semi-final-like match of the Independence Cup against arch rivals Indians and played some outstanding shots. Yet, I am putting on number 5 for the simple reason that Anwar scored 120 out of the 194 runs with the help of a runner (Shahid Afridi). Fatigue plays an important obstacle in such long innings and Anwar hardly experienced it that day!

4. Virendra Sehwag – 219 (149) vs West Indies in 2011 at Indore: Sehwag’s fans might hate me for this but still I will put it on number 4 as Sehwag got two chances (one run-out and one dropped catch). Needless to say, West Indies’ bowling attack was non-threatening.

3. Sanath Jayasuriya – 189 (170) vs India in 2000 at Sharjah: Jayasuriya loved playing against India and on this particular day, his love was the deepest. The Sharjah crowd was in for some treat as Jayasuriya played his trademark shots all over the park.

2. Vivian Richards – 189* (170) vs England in 1984 at Manchester: The England bowling attack of the 80s was a deadly one due to the likes of Ian Botham, Bob Willis and Derek Pringle to name a few. Due to this very reason, the innings by Richards deserves a high place.

1. Two entries: -

i) Sachin Tendulkar – 200* (147) vs South Africa in 2010 at Gwalior: South Africa had one of the decent bowling line-ups in the world at that time with bowlers like Dale Steyn, Charl Langeveldt, Jaques Kallis, etc. But a big reason why I am ranking this as number 1 is simply because of the huge expectation that Sachin carries when he goes out to bat. Just imagine the anticipation for a double century once he crossed 150!

ii) Kapil Dev – 175* (138) vs Zimbabwe in 1983 at Turnbridge Wells: This truly great innings failed to grab much of a limelight for the simple reason that the match wasn’t telecast! However, there are solid reasons why this knock deserves a rating of one. India were almost out of the match at 17 for 5 when Kapil arrived at the crease. To get the team out of such a deep hole required a miracle and scoring 175 not out after coming in at such a time is miraculous! Plus, the match was like a quarter final for India. If India had lost this one, we could never have won the 1983 World Cup!